Track Changes allows Word to keep track of changes like additions and deletions which are cleanly displayed. This feature can be useful when you are working alone on a document, but it is more powerful when multiple collaborators make changes to a document. Every change is clearly marked in a document. These changes can be accepted or rejected before the document is made ready.
Track Changes is one of the more powerful features in Microsoft Word. The ability to see the edits which have been performed by you or your co-workers is at the core of document collaboration. But Track Changes is also more than that. It is a feedback tool and the best way to create a more improved document through teamwork.
Let’s see how to switch it on and use the different markups that make the changes easy to spot.
Turn Track Changes On
You can turn Track Changes on and off by going to Ribbon > Review > Track Changes.
Just remember to turn Track Changes on before you start reviewing a document. It’s no good making changes to a document and then realizing you need to track the changes.
When you select Track Changes from the dropdown Word will start monitoring any change to the document. Try adding or deleting some text. Or, even make a change to any formatting. Word will record everything and display it with markups.
How to View Changes with Markup
Word uses different markups and colors to show the type of edits made to a document. You can choose the type of markup from the dropdown in the Tracking Group.
- Simple Markup places a small red line in the margin of the paragraph where a change has been made.
- All Markup shows each person’s edits in different colors of text and balloons for any formatting changes.
- No Markup is the clean version of the document without the distraction of the colored markups.
- Original shows the original document before then changes were tracked.
How to Choose the Markups You Would Like to See
You can choose the kind of edits which will be highlighted with markups. This helps to remove unnecessary clutter that all the markups bring into the document.
Click on the Show Markup option. The dropdown list has options to turn markup on or off for the different kinds of revisions made. You can select all of them or selectively choose them to make your reading smoother.
Balloons helps you decide if some markup appears inline or in balloons out at the sides of the document.
Specific People helps you focus on only certain reviewers if your document has been marked up by more than one person.
How to Accept or Reject the Tracked Changes
A document is ready when you decide to accept or reject the edits made to the original document. These decisions are controlled from the Changes group on the Review pane.
- Go to Ribbon > Review.
- In the Changes group, click the little dropdown arrows on the Accept or Reject buttons.
- From the dropdown list of either button, you can do things like Accept or Reject and Move to Next, Accept or Reject All Changes (or All Shown), and Accept or Reject All and Stop Tracking.
- When you just want to move through the changes without accepting or rejecting them, you can also use the Previous and Next buttons in the group.
How to Use Comments to Annotate Changes
The Comments group on the Review panel is separate from the Track Changes feature. But sometimes it is essential to explain the reason for the changes and add other suggestions if necessary.
To write your first comment follow these steps:
- Insert your cursor at the place you want to leave a comment. You can also select the text that you are commenting on.
- Go to Ribbon > Review > Comments group.
- Click New Comment. The comment balloon is displayed on the side of the document.
Finetune the Advanced Track Changes Options
As we have seen before, you can filter the kind of markups you want to see in the document from the Show Markup drop down. The tiny downward arrow on the Tracking group also opens a dialog box with the same options and other advanced controls.
For example, you can uncheck all the options except for Formatting.
The default Track Changes rules are often good enough. But there may be instances where you would want to change them according to the needs of the document and the collaborating team. You can set tracked changes and comments to appear in different colors for different authors.
- Click the Advanced Options button on the Tracking dialog box.
- Click the arrows next to the Color boxes and the Comments box and choose By author.
Use the color options to change the default color codes for the different markups and comment balloons. A different markup color for each user can easily help you track multiple reviewers. Do note that the colors chosen are for your computer only. Other people will see the tracked changes in whatever colors they set up.
Use Track Changes to Improve Your Editing Skills
Track Changes in Microsoft Word is a visual feature. The colored mark ups and the tools to navigate through them make reviewing a document easier. But they also help you spot and correct errors with a glance. Yes, you will struggle a bit in the beginning as you work your way through the myriad tracked changes or the pile of comment balloons on the side. So, take each marked up change one at a time to get the hang of it.
Try Track Changes alone or with a collaborator and tell us if you found a stumbling block or two.
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